BRAINS! St. Louis-Style at the Crow's Nest

Categories: Restaurant News

Holly Fann
The Crow's Nest's take on the classic St. Louis Brain and Eggs.
While these days it seems like those who eat offal are adventurous gourmands, this wasn't always the case. Organ meats are humble by nature, the odd science-project leftovers after the animal has been broken down into the more obviously appealing roasts and steaks. With clever cooking techniques, though, these cheap "nasty bits" can become tasty, even highfalutin' dishes. In No Guts, No Glory, Gut Check visits local places serving up the offal truth.

At the Crow's Nest (7336 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-781-0989), owner Mike McLaughlin suggested to chef Jimmy Hippchen that the restaurant put a "traditional south-side brain sandwich" on the menu.

"While I was researching brains, I found out it was an exclusive St. Louis thing, which I thought was really cool," says Hippchen.

Hippchen prepares his brain sandwich in the traditional poach, dredge and fry method. The raw brains that he pulls from the fridge look like zombie slop. It's not until he poaches it that it firms up into its familiar "lobe" form.

Holly Fann
Brains, poached.
"You have to clean them up a bit now, take out all of the weird shit," explains Hippchen as he removes connective cord and tissue from the brains.

He plops the brains in some buttermilk, dredges them in flour and then disappears to the bar for a shot of soda water to make some "ghetto tempura." A short swim in the deep fryer produces benign-looking, pale golden brown nuggets which could be mistaken for fried chicken fingers. After smearing a generous dose of sambal (chile sauce) on a toasted brioche bun, he adds the brains and tops them with a jaunty sunny-side-up egg.

Zombies love brains, but for humans it's a matter of taste. Hippchen's brain sandwich is crisp with the unmistakably intense richness and soft slurpy insides of cooked brains. The sambal adds a vinegary foil to the fattiness of the messy egg yolk and brain which, in the end, will inevitably drip and drool all over your face and hands making you look quite zombie-esque indeed.

Location Info

The Crow's Nest

7336 Manchester Road, Maplewood, MO

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Jim Malina
Jim Malina

Great article Holly! I might just have to give the Crow's Nest another chance now...Tom, wanna go try a brain sandwich?


Hell yes gonna have to check this out.  I remember this StL classic from my childhood when I used to go to several places in S. County and Afton with my dad.  It is fatty, bad for you, and messy in all the right ways.  Is Hippchen using cow brains?  I'm interested because I recall brains and brain stems being banned from the US food supply.  Am I wrong?

Thomas Gabel Jr
Thomas Gabel Jr

As a lover of offal and organ meat, I am crazy excited to see this column.  Keep 'em coming Holly!

James Edward Hippchen
James Edward Hippchen

Hey, this is Jimmy Hippchen from the Crow's Nest. We use calves brains. The law is that they must be under 30 months old in order to be sold, etc. Thanks for the interest! Oh, and if anyone is interested in cooking up their own brains, Jay Int'l has pig brains as well as all kinds of fun offal.

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